The Catholic Archbishop and Primate of All Ireland used the annual address to call for a campaign against abortion as the Government prepares legislation to give effect to the X case.
He called on those who believe in a “fundamental” right to life to lobby public representatives in a “reasonable, but forthright” manner. He said the right to life “is conferred on human beings not by the powerful ones of this world, but by the Creator”.
“Public representatives will be asked to decide whether a caring and compassionate society is defined by providing the best possible care and protection to a woman struggling to cope with an unwanted pregnancy or by the deliberate destruction of another human life,” said Cardinal Brady. “There is no more important value than upholding the right to life in all circumstances.”
Pro-choice campaigners and politicians hit out at Cardinal Brady’s comments, accusing him of scaremongering and deliberately misrepresenting the position for which the Oireachtas has to legislate.
Pro-Choice Ireland spokeswoman Sinead Ahern accused Cardinal Brady of misrepresenting proposed legislation by suggesting it would lead to a liberal abortion system.
“I think there is a touch of scaremongering in his comments,” said Ms Ahern. “Obviously, this is a very sensitive issue and one on which opinion is sharply divided. However, the issue here is a change in the law to put into effect a right women have had here for a long time. Cardinal Brady talks a lot about the right to life, but what about a woman’s right to life? The lack of legislation in this area is threatening that right.
“He is suggesting some sort of very liberal abortion regime coming in on foot of the legislation when the fact is abortion will only be offered to women where there is a direct threat to the life of the mother.
“It will not affect those who are carrying a child with fatal foetal abnormalities, women who have been raped, or women who are very ill.”
Labour TD Michael McNamara also hit out at Cardinal Brady’s use of the Christmas message to “again misrepresent the position within which the Oireachtas is required to legislate”.
Mr McNamara said Cardinal Brady should be more concerned with the religious orders’ failure to transfer assets to the State to help pay for the compensation of victims of abuse, given his own failure to protect children who were sexually abused.
“The enormous cost to the State resulting from their failure to transfer assets should be a particular concern for Cardinal Brady, given his own failure as a young priest to protect children who were being abused by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth and... whose names and addresses Cardinal Brady was given by another abuse victim who was sworn to secrecy,” he said.
Cork Feminista spokeswoman Linda Kelly said it was “disgraceful” that Cardinal Brady would use a Christmas message to put across a political point.